Social Networks Keep Expats Connected

Published 2011-01-15 11:05:34

Connected: USA. Arizona. Page. Horseshoe Bend. Man with notebook © PictureArt - FotoliaThink back to a trip away from home in the 1970's. No e-mail, no internet, no way to cheaply call home. People actually sent letters!
Think even further back to the 1900's. Brown leather trunks adorned with stickers from around the world announced you as a traveler. Wistfully, you said good-bye to your home and embarked on an epic, and isolated, adventure. You were lucky to even get letters.

The internet has totally changed travel. This simply cannot be overstated. Suddenly people are informed about the world in general, able to instantly "tweet" a photo of their exotic lunch to friends, create a blog to share their stories, and wish someone they met in a hostel happy birthday on Facebook. While this new technology is helpful to all travelers, it has a particular benefit to expats. Networking can not only help you keep in contact with those back home, but can help to replace or rebuild support systems and become established in a host country. Benefits range from setting up business contacts to finding a trusted babysitter to just making friends. People are connecting on a whole new level- where leaving home, no longer means you completely left. 


What is it?

It seems like almost everyone is on Facebook. Not only is everybody using it, it was the backdrop to one of 2010's biggest movies, "The Social Network". This giant among sites has more than 500 million active users. Facebook allows anyone who declares themselves to be at least 13 years old to become a registered user. It started on college campuses, but today's users span all age groups.

Users create personal profiles, which they trick out with photos, quotes, and "likes" of bands, movies, and interest groups. People connect to friend's profiles, creating a web of connections with the larger Facebook network. Users can also "chat" through messaging to friends currently online.


As the largest social network, this site practically guarantees you will be able to keep in touch with friends and family back home, as well as offering opportunities to make friends in your new location. Easy-to-use and navigate, it is also an excellent resource for posting pictures and videos to share with friends and find out about events in your area.

Facebook has dedicated expat groups, like Easy Expat. Using the search engine at the top of the site, you can use terms like "expat", "German", "French", "English expats", or any combo that specifies your interest. You can also search by location to find groups with similar interests. Want to play soccer in Mexico City? You can find a group for that on Facebook.

How to Set-up an Account

  1. Start at the homepage. Click on "Sign Up," which takes you to a Web form.
  2. Fill out the form that asks for your full name, your current status, email address, a password and your birthday. You'll also have to type in a series of letters and numbers for a security check as well as check a box saying that you understand and agree to the terms of use and privacy policy. Click the "Sign up now!" button when you have completed the form.
  3. Wait for your confirmation email. When you get the email, click on the link in the email to confirm that you did in fact register for a Facebook account. You will then be logged into Facebook.
  4. Search for friends, family, and coworkers. You may search by name, email address, location, school or company.


What is it?

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that has created its own language. "Tweets" are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author's profile page and delivered to the author's subscribers, who are known as followers. It is similar to texting (SMS) all of your friends at once. It can be used on all compatible external applications (such as for smart phones). A social tool to keep in contact with friends and family, it has become so common place to now even used by business contacts. It is estimated that Twitter has 190 million users, generating 65 million tweets a day and handling over 800,000 search queries per day.


Twitter is both social and informative. Not only will you be kept up-to-date on friends and family, occasionally you hear news before it even hits the mainstream (Michael Jackson's death broke over Twitter). It is also possible to keep abreast of expat news, like on EasyExpat's twitter account.

How to Set-up an Account

  1. Go to the Twitter website.
  2. Read the What, Why and How to familiarize yourself with what is expected
  3. Click Join the Conversation to set up an account. Upon clicking the button you will be brought to the Create a Free Twitter Account page. Select an available username that represents you. Select a password, provide an email address, read the terms of service and click "I accept Create my account.
  4. Add friends (or skip it until you become more familiar with Twitter).
  5. Begin Twittering.


What is it?

Photo sharing sites allow users to post images and videos and access a vast online community. It has never been easier to store and share photos. In moments, a series of photos of a breathtaking sunset over the Italian Riviera can be uploaded, captioned, and shared with friends. Some of the most prominent sites are Flickr, Photobucket, Webshots, Picasa or the popular video sharing site Youtube.


Provides an easy way to share images with those you love. Also an excellent tool for honing your photography skills as there are forums and guides. Easy Expat has a group of expat photos that you can contribute to at

FlickrHow to Set-up a Flickr Account

  1. Go to Flickr home page.
  2. Click on the "Create Your Account" button located in the top right corner.
  3. If you currently have a Yahoo! ID for email, you can use this to log in. If not, click on "Sign Up" to register for a free account.
  4. Fill in the information requested in the three sign-up steps. (If you're creating a new Yahoo! account, you'll receive two emails: a confirmation email with a link you need to click to activate your account and an email with a clickable link that will verify your email address. Open both emails and click on the provided links.
  5. Success! You can start uploading and viewing pictures

Skype, IM, Googlemail

What is it?

Various sites offer the ability to "chat" with other users. Originally this meant typed messages that would instantly pop up on each others screens. In recent years, this has expanded to being able to voice and video chat. With service through the internet, it is cheap, easy, and better then a phone call.

Skype is far and away the best piece of technology as users can message, talk, or video chat with other internet users for free. For a fraction of competitor's fees you can also make calls to land lines and cell phones. Other useful services include goggle talk, windows live messenger, meebo, and more.

How to Set-up an Account

  1. Go to the Skype home page. Or go straight to the download page at
  3. Run Skype Setup application. A window will open asking what to do. Now click 'Save File'.
  4. Follow Setup Wizard
  5. When download is complete, click on SkypeSetup.exe file from web browser. Downloads window will open with Skype Setup Application.
  6. The Skype Setup Wizard will appear and guide you through the remainder part of the installation.
  7. Launch Skype Application. After the installation is complete, open Skype by clicking on the icon on your desktop or in your system tray.
  8. Start Skyping and finding friends by searching for names and/or e-mails


Easiest and cheapest way to stay in contact with people back home that are internet savvy AND those that aren't. Ability to call people's land lines or cell phones is invaluable for those people you want to keep in contact with that do not use newer technology.


What is it?

The word "blog" was created as a blend of the terms "web" and "log". This particular type of website is usually maintained by an individual and seeks to express a person's point of view, share stories, provide a descriptions of events, or feature someone's work. Most blogs allow for readers to interact by leaving comments, voting, or asking questions. Some people allow ads to appear on their blog which can supplement an income, or become a full-time salary.


When an expat lives their social network, that may leave a lot of people to keep in contact with. A blog is an easy way to share stories, pictures, and videos with a broad group of people. Friends and family can check in at their leisure, discovering what is going on in your life. One of the best thing about a blog is the ability to personalize everything from the design to the content.

Blog Expat: living abroadEasyExpat offers hundreds of expat blogs at This is a valuable resource as visitors can read the stories from other expatiates and gain a better understanding and knowledge of specific places, travel tips, and advice on how to survive as an expat. If you are feeling adventurous, you can start your own blog with your own tips, tricks, and stories.

How to register your blog on BlogExpat

  1. Go to Blog Expat's add a blog.
  2. If you aren't already registered on the site, register at
  3. Accept the terms and conditions
  4. Fill out the Profile Information
  5. Locate yourself on the map, or where you want the blog to be based
  6. Add a title and description of your blog
  7. Hit register
  8. Your blog will need to be approved. When you receive the approval e-mail, you will be able to start bloggin about all of your fabulous experiences.

StarYou can also follow BlogExpat on its own Twitter account, Facebook and Flickr.

Tips for Managing Networks

As described, the world of technology is an aid to travelers and expats. However, it is also important to step back from these devices and embrace the climate you are living in. If you spend all of your time staying connected with friends back home, you will miss amazing expat experiences. Technology should allow you enhance your life. So log-on, research, and then log-off and explore.

Expats Using Networks

UK expat to Spain- makes a living off networks
20 Interesting Expats To Follow On Twitter

Social Networks

Expat Trends

Author: EasyExpat
Community Manager

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For other discussions, advice, question, point of view, get together, etc...: please use the forum.

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